Does Aurora have a drug problem?
It is troubling to even think about that concept, much less write about it, but recent events suggest that as a community we need to be aware of the potential for drug use and abuse, and especially its horrific consequences.
A teen-ager nearly died last month from taking over-the-counter pills and mixing it with alcohol. The family chose to tell their story publicly, hoping to help more people be aware of what’s happening behind the scenes. That was a bold step, one that was no doubt criticized by some who either don’t want to hear about it or prefer to think that it can’t happen to someone they know or love.
The nearly fatal incident was a wake-up call, no matter how you feel about the issue, prompting some brutally honest conversations that need to be had.
Law enforcement and medical personnel, the folks who are on the front lines of this issue, say there is reason for concern. Alcohol and marijuana are readily available, as they have been for decades, but there are also concerns with growing use and abuse of over-the-counter medications. “The pill epidemic is growing,” according to local police, which came as a harsh reality check for me, frankly, realizing how easy it is for today’s youth to push the envelope for a cheap thrill ride in ways that weren’t a factor when I was their age.
Parents today can’t pretend to know everything about Triple C and whatever else is out there lurking, but we can and should be aware of the dangers. One thing that hasn’t changed in 40 years, and won’t over the next 40, is the need for parents to be parents, being involved in their kids’ lives and watching for signs of trouble.
Small signals like slower reaction times, constant fatigue, dilated pupils and in more obvious cases slurred speech should be cause for alarm and the hard conversations that are easier to avoid.
Ask questions. Know where your kids are and who they are with. Be involved. Show that you care.
D.A.R.E. is a fantastic program, giving young minds something to think about before they are faced with making those hard decisions at the moment of choice. It is, however, just one small weapon in the arsenal needed to fight this epic battle. Far more important, in the end, is the support structure at home and the decisions made by the immediate circle of friends, who have a tremendous impact on a young, impressionable mind.
Bottom line: Aurora remains a wonderful place to live, go to school, work and raise a family. It is not, unfortunately, immune to the dangers of drug and/or alcohol abuse which far too often lead to years of heartache.
That harsh lesson bears repeating, again and again.